If you’re reading this, congratulations! You’ve made it to (practically) the end of the year, so give yourself a pat on the back. Christmas is almost in sight, and then it’s straight on to 2020, where the world will sort itself and there won’t be any problems at all, right? Right?! I’m not sure I can cope with a summer hotter than the last one.
Regardless, the gaming industry isn’t quite done with 2019 just yet, as there’s still a number of notable releases scheduled for all platforms that should keep you occupied during the Christmas break. Ah, who are we kidding? You’ll be replaying The Witcher 3 again, won’t you? Here’s all the big releases from December 2019.
Halo: Reach | December 3rd
Developer: Bungie/343 Industries Publisher: Xbox Game Studios Platform(s): PC
It’s funny, really. The original version of Halo: Reach launched back in September 2010, so the arguable best entry in the series has book-ended the past 10 years. We started this decade playing Halo: Reach, and we’ll finish it the same way. With its brilliant campaign, multiplayer and co-op Firefight mode, we couldn’t think of a better way to round out the decade.
A prequel for the long-running Halo series, Reach takes place on the eponymous planet, where you play as Noble Six, the latest member of Noble Team and the last chance the planet has against the Covenant. Reach’s re-release also marks the day that Halo: The Master Chief Collection is available on PC, starting with Reach.
Life Is Strange 2 – Episode 5 | December 3rd
Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment Publisher: Square Enix Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1
DONTNOD’s Life Is Strange 2 is rapidly approaching its finale, so rapidly in fact that you can play it today if you so wish. Well, maybe rapidly isn’t the best word, considering it took well over a year for the developers to launch all five instalments of this episodic adventure, but either way, it’s coming to an end.
Life Is Strange 2 focuses on the relationship between player character Sean and his younger brother Daniel. As Daniel discovers his supernatural abilities, its up to you to teach him the correct values, with his decisions affected by internal sense of morality and how much he trusts you. You’ll have to see how successful you were when the final episode concludes.
Developer: Snapshot Games Publisher: Snapshot Games Platform(s): PC (console release next year)
There have been a few XCOM style clones over the past few years, ever since its re-emergence as XCOM: Enemy Unknown in 2012, but none have the edge like Phoenix Point does. Its ace in the hole? The lead designer is Julian Gollop, the man who created the XCOM series in the first place.
Taking place in a post-apocalyptic future Earth ravaged by a mutagenic Alien virus, you must manage Phoenix Point, one of humanity’s last bastions. It’s up to you to command strike teams against the alien hordes while meeting with other human factions and managing their goals and expectations. It’s probably going to be just as brutal as XCOM, and that’s fine by us.
Darksiders: Genesis | December 5th
Developer: Airship Syndicate Publisher: THQ Nordic Platform(s): PC, Stadia (console release in February 2020)
The Darksiders series has had many inspirations over the years, starting out as a Zelda-like series of dungeons, before switching to a more traditional RPG with Darksiders 2. Darksiders 3 might have missed the mark as a Dark Souls-esque experience, but Genesis looks to right those wrongs, taking the series to the top-down, action RPG genre.
As the fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, Strife, you team up with War to venture straight into the bowels of Hell to kick the snot out of the demonic hordes. Solo players can switch between the two characters at will, but you can also recruit a friend to take on the entire adventure together.
JRPG remakes seem to be all the rage these days, with the likes of Trials of Mana and the long-awaited Final Fantasy 7 Remake scheduled to launch in the next couple of months. Before all that though, we have Star Ocean: First Departure R to tide us over, and let’s be honest: a JRPG like this will probably keep us going until March.
First Departure R is a remake of the original Star Ocean game that launched back in 1996. In fact, the First Departure remake also launched on the PSP back in 2007, with First Departure R offering even more refinements and additions. Despite the nigh-on 25 year age of the original game, Star Ocean: First Departure R is worth your time.
MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries | December 10th
Developer: Piranha Games Publisher: Piranha Games Platform(s): PC (via Epic Games Store)
It’s been 17 years since the last single player MechWarrior game, so for those who’ve been waiting patiently for the best part of two decades for a proper solo adventure in the BattleTech universe , Christmas will come early. Turns out Santa is delivering gifts of giant mechs to the good girls and boys this year, while naughty children will be forced to play Anthem.
Playing as a young mercenary in 3015, you’ll earn your stripes during the dying years of the Third Succession War. You’ll be able to accept various contracts from the different factions that are lingering at that time. With four player co-op supported, you and your friends could become the greatest mercenaries the galaxy has ever known.
The Switch has become the home of underrated games from previous generations that deserve another chance to bang, and Call of Juarez: Gunslinger fits that bill perfectly. The Call of Juarez series as a whole has never been that good, but Gunslinger serves as a shining diamond in amongst a field of constant rough.
The game follows bounty hunter Silas Greaves as he spins an elaborate yarn about his exploits to the patrons of a saloon in Kansas. The arcade gunplay makes Gunslinger fun to play, but Greaves’ status as an unreliable narrator and how that presents itself within the levels makes Gunslinger something special indeed.
Keita Takahashi has to have the most vivid imagination in history. The creator of Katamari Damacy is known for some curious games, but Wattam might just be the strangest yet, and that’s a good thing. Seriously, if we can’t get another Katamari game, Wattam looks like it’ll scratch that itch just fine.
Wattam is a sandbox experience where your objective is to make friends with the various objects and animals that populate the world. Pretty much everything in the world can become your pal, and you can use these characters to play around with the game’s physics to create some hilarious moments. Weird? Yes. Fun? More than likely.